Fifty-two years ago England raised the Wordcup with that unforgettable final at Wembley. Bobby Moore’s team certainly raised the pulse ofthe nation in those closing minutes and that was football history in the making. Could this happen again in Russia 2018? There’s no doubt that the English team has left its mark with that record 6 – 1 victory over Panama. However, some commentators have already written England off, but with the unexpected departures of Germany, Spain and Portugal – their predictions may well come back to haunt them. Who will ever forget Gary Lineker keeping his pledge to present Match of the Day in his boxer shorts if Leicester City became Premiere League Champions in 2016. Against all odds they did! France, Uruguay and Brazil remain the main challengers but that doesn’t mean that England fans can’t hope and dream! All dependent, of course, how their team fared against Columbia on Tuesday night.
Football is emerging as one of the great powers for good in the world. Like the Olympics the potential of unifying nations that so often sit on the opposite ends of political and social ideals is seen in packed stadiums of fans supporting and sticking with their teams win or lose. For ninety minutes differences are put aside as both teams give everything to win the match. Mix that with a measure of goodwill that fans show to both teams and the essential ingredient of fair play and a high regard for the rules of the game then, whichever team wins or loses the players will be worthy of the honour of their country as well as a world audience satisfied and content that they have seen a game well played.
It’s the same in life – God calls us to live according to the laws he has given. To show love and respect for all his children despite cultural and racial differences and to seek unity across divides that so often keep us apart. Living out the command that Jesus gives to love God and our neighbour as we love ourselves. Let’s hope that the goodwill, excitement and the unity we have seen among the teams of Russia 2018 be the standard to which all political and world leaders will now seek to attain. Then football will truly be the ‘beautiful game’